Why is 5G faster? What new technologies are being used in 5G?

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5G Internet will become the fastest in the history of mobile communications due to several factors, which can be divided into three main groups: the expansion of the frequency band, the development of existing technologies and the emergence of new technologies. Let’s take a closer look at these aspects and answer some of the most popular questions about 5G cellular communications.

Wide bandwidth in new 5G bands
Contrary to popular misconception, the bandwidth of the cellular network is practically unrelated to the frequency range used. The main factor is not the frequency itself, but the bandwidth allocated to the operator. By itself, a change in the carrier frequency affects the speed of the mobile network only indirectly and (for example, due to a change in the penetrating ability of radio waves) and is not a decisive factor.

To see how this works, just look at an example of the simplest amplitude modulation that is widely used in radio engineering. As you can see from the picture below, the original (encoded) signal is superimposed on the carrier frequency and changes one of its features, in this case, the amplitude.


Original signal (top), carrier frequency (middle), transmitted signal (bottom)

The change in signal amplitude becomes a marker with which the receiver can restore the original “material”. In this case, the carrier frequency itself does not matter: we can decrease or increase the frequency of oscillations, on which the original signal is superimposed, but the amount of transmitted information will not change from this.

In cellular networks, a more complex – quadrature – modulation is used, but the general principle does not change. The carrier frequency acts only as a transport that transmits the original signal. Therefore, it is not correct to say that the speed of mobile communication depends on the carrier frequency. However, in most cases, such a pattern can be traced. Why?

As we said above, the main factor affecting the bandwidth of a connection is bandwidth. To illustrate this idea, here are some real-life examples:

highway traffic depends on the width of the road and the number of lanes, and not on the height above ground level;
rooms of the same area hold the same amount of furniture regardless of which floor they are located on. To fit more things into a room, you need to increase its area, and not move to the upper floor;
When transmitting a message using Morse code, it does not matter whether it is encoded with a low-frequency “beep” (pee-pee-pee-pee) or beating on a drum (boom-boom-boom-boom-boom).
Back to our first question: Why is 5G faster? Knowing that bandwidth is a major factor, it is easy to see why 5G will become the fastest cellular service in the world. The fact is that it is in 5G communications that operators are planning to allocate much larger frequency ranges than it was in 3G and 4G networks.

Free frequencies are a gold resource that is used in many areas of life. The state is far from always able (and far from always wanting) to allocate frequencies for cellular communications. Low frequency ranges have been allocated and occupied for a long time, there is simply “no room left” for a significant expansion for cellular communications. Therefore, with each new standard of cellular communication, the carrier frequency gradually increases, because in higher ranges it is easier to find free space for new networks.

To visually assess how much the bandwidth in 5G networks will increase compared to previous standards, just look at the comparison table:

It is easy to see that the frequency band of 5G standards is several times higher than that of the “fastest” 4G standards. And if earlier the maximum bandwidth for one operator was 20 MHz, then in 5G sub-6 GHz this value will grow to 100 MHz, and in the millimeter range – up to 400 MHz!

It is with the aim of maximizing bandwidth that new frequency bands such as n78 and n79 are being commissioned.

How fast will 5G internet be?
On the Internet, you can find a very large range of numbers about the speed of 5G Internet. Usually, hundreds of megabits, gigabits, or even tens of gigabits are indicated as approximate values. It should be understood that in most cases, equipment manufacturers and operators provide theoretical values ​​that can only be achieved under special laboratory conditions. For example, one of the first 5G routers Huawei 5G CPE Pro supports download speeds of 1.65 Gaps, and the subsequent model Huawei 5G CPE Pro 2 increases this value to 3.6 Gaps through the use of frequency aggregation.


Of course, in practice, the speed will differ from the declared theoretical values. However, you shouldn’t be upset about this. Real tests in countries where 5G networks have already been launched show that the Internet in the new frequency bands (sub-6 GHz) will be several times faster than the 4G Internet. The exact speed will depend on the distance to the base station and the technology used by the operator. As with 4G internet, frequency aggregation technology and the number of MIMO streams will be of great importance. On average, tests show that the speed of 5G networks in real conditions can easily reach 300 MPs, even at the initial stage of technology implementation.

When working in millimeter frequencies (5G mauve), the speed will also increase significantly, however, the coverage area of ​​such networks will be minimal. At the moment, operators plan to deploy 5G mauve networks only in public places to provide fast Internet with a large crowd of people. First tests of 5G mauve in real conditions (for example, on the existing Verizon network in the US) show that download speeds can easily surpass the 1.5Gbps mark!

How fast will 5G internet be on the old frequencies?
As we described in the previous article, 5G will be able to work including on the already existing frequency bands that are used today for 3G and 4G networks. This will allow operators to use the available frequency resource for further expansion and development of their networks. But what speed will be available to 5G subscribers using the old frequency bands?

Of course, 5G differs from the previous generation of cellular in more than just bandwidth. 5G standards contain many additional assistive technologies that improve connection speed and stability.  Unfortunately, none of them is a watershed in terms of bandwidth.